In the 1980s Michael Manser, chairman and founder of the company became involved in RIBA politics becoming president of the RIBA from 1983 to 1985. In the event his ‘presidential’ years were largely overtaken by the intervention of Prince Charles in to the output of the profession but his original plan had been to try, within the RIBA, to get planning legislation changed so that the process of getting planning permission for a project became simpler, quicker and less unpredictable.
Sadly, in many ways, 30 years later the unpredictability in the planning system and the delay that it causes is still the most infuriating element at the beginning of a project. Whilst the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) seems like a worthwhile attempt to make the process less cumbersome it will achieve little if the impact it has is as diminished as that of the now (too) well established Pre Planning Application (PPA) process.
In principal the PPA is a sensible proposal to enable local authority planners to give advice to developers before an application is made. Too often, however, we are finding, that the advice when it eventually arrives accounts to little more than a list of relevant policies and some scoping as to necessary technical aspects that will need to accompany an application.